Help us Save the lives of Thousands of Innocent Pets

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We ask that The House of Representatives looks to the cessation of use of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Viruses to control feral Rabbits due to the indiscriminate danger it represents to the lives 116,000 Pet (companion) Rabbits resident in New Zealand.

The RHDV1 virus in New Zealand was illegally imported from Australia and although classed as an unwanted organism, is used to control Feral rabbits. The Cylap Vaccine protects vaccinated pet (companion) rabbits from this virus, it is 90% effective and some pet rabbits can die from the vaccine.

Inhumane death for both feral and pet (companion) Rabbits.
The death from The Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus is not painless or peaceful. A rabbit may stay very still when dying from Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus and appear to be without pain. This is nothing more than its natural instinct to hide illness or injury from prey.  Observed symptoms of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus vary but include depression, sitting still, loss of appetite, sadness, paralysis, reddened eyes, labored breathing, un- coordination, weight loss, apathy, convulsions, twitching, screaming, squealing, crying, shaking, thrashing about in pain and other nervous system disorders just before they die. Also, dead rabbits usually have blood stains around nasal, mouth, anus, vagina, and that gives further indication of the internal trauma involved. In some cases, no clinical signs are observed. 

New Zealand Pet (companion) rabbits face a painful death from four threats from the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus. 
1) RHDV1 V351 Czech strain - The current endemic virus. The Cylap vaccine provides 90% protection. RHDV1 is spread by landowners, market gardeners and farmers using infected carcasses or minced innards, in an unregulated, illegal, unmonitored process   
2) RHDV2 from Australia. This virus will arrive here either naturally or illegally. This strain will become dominant over RHDV1 as has occurred in Europe. This strain kills with no observed signs and unlike RHDV1, kills kits. Vaccines exist but not in Australia or New Zealand. 
3) G1/RHDV2 strain. This virus in Australia is thought to be a  recombinant RHDV1 / RHDV2 strain. There is no vaccine.
4) RHDV1a-K5 which Australia plans to release in March 2017. Chosen for its better kill rate. It will arrive here either naturally or illegally. There is no vaccine with proven efficacy to protect pets. 
5) RHDV1a-K5. Released in New Zealand as part of MPI's Plan. There is no vaccine with proven efficacy to protect pets. 

Rabbit Haemorrhagic RHDV2 and G1/RHDV2 pose a real and grave risk of arrival from Australia.
MPI states that RHDV2 poses a low risk and current biosecurity measures will stop the virus arriving. Scientific peer reviews agree that this virus is highly resilient, survives freezing cycles, 50c for 1 hour and can survive for 3 to 7.5 months in the environment. It will just take 1 of the 3,200,000 passengers arriving from Australia to New Zealand, to walk on the ground where an infected rabbit has been, to carry the virus, step on any one of the numerous direct flights to transfer the virus to New Zealand. As history shows, the illegal introduction cannot be ruled out either.  

No vaccine is available for RHDV1a-K5.
The released information by both the Australian Government and Landcare Research that the Cyclap vaccine protects against RHDV1a-K5 has now been questioned by:
RHDV1a-K5 is different to RHDV.
RHDV1a-K5 is from the different sub-group known as RHDV1 as proven by Korean Scientists.
Zoetis, the manufacturers, themselves state no proven efficacy.
Australian Veterinary Association says Cylap is not registered for G1/RHDV2 and use of Cylap for RHDV1a-K5 needs more investigation and the Australian Governments suggested six-monthly protocol is off-label use which poses a greater risk of fatality when administered. 
The Australian RSPCA says Cylap is unproven against RHDV1a-K5 and there is no vaccine for G1/RHDV2.
The Rabbit Australian Biocontrol Scientific Committee of the Invasive Animals CRC in April 2016 also recommended vaccines for RHDV2 and RHDV1a-k5. This advice was ignored by the Australian Government.
The World Health Organisation recommends individual vaccines for each variant of a virus.
Testing done by NSW DPI does not meet standards. (See Table)
The small pilot testing (of 2 groups of 7 rabbits, 1 group high dose by mouth the other by exposure to an infected liver) that was undertaken by NSW DPI were monitored post challenge for 7.  These tests do not meet the standards set by the AVPMA, ACVM or OIE for veterinary medicine registration and failed to test minimum dose or efficacy at 12 months. In the scientific discussion paper by Pfizer regarding Cylap development, 4 groups of rabbits, aged 2.5 to 3 months were initially tested to ensure no antibodies present. low, middle, high and no doses of vaccine were administered and challenged 21 days post vaccination and monitored for 14 days. A further trial (3 groups totally 119 rabbits) was undertaken to test immunity development using the minimum effective amount of vaccine and challenged 366 day's post vaccination. The Pfizer trial follows the requirements of AVPMA, ACVM and OIE. The NSW DPI trials fail to meet the standards required and therefore any proof of efficacy or minimum effective vaccine amount and vaccine longevity remains unproven.
Australian Government test fails Registration requirements.
The Australian Government does not intend to register Cylap against RHDV1a-K5 and its use will, therefore, be off label. The reason for this is that the testing undertaken does not pass Veterinary Medicine Registration requirements. (See separate table)
Contradiction by Australian Government.
Although the Australian Government claims Cylap, which is designed to protect against RHDV1, protects against RHDV1a-K5, they refute the scientific claim by another RHDV1 vaccine manufacturer that their Vaccine will cross protect against RHDV1a-K5. 
No vaccine is available for G1/RHDV2.
The European vaccines may protect against RHDV2 but not against the recombinant G1/RHDV2 variant. 

We ask The House of Representatives to:
1) Initiate and facilitate the development of vaccines or a trivalent vaccine for Rabbit Haemorrhagic viruses present and planned to be present in both New Zealand and Australia.
2) Delay the release of RHDV1a-K5 virus in New Zealand until a scientifically, independently peer-reviewed proven vaccine is available tested in accordance with internationally recognized standards. 
3) Looks to the future cessation of use of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic virus on Animal Welfare grounds in favour of less indiscriminate and more humane methods such as being developed by Senestech in America which has developed a drink that male and female rats love that makes both male and female infertile. This is a much more humane way of controlling feral rabbits populations in problem areas without risking the lives of pet rabbits.



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